When Quinton Adkins ‘16 graduated high school he didn’t see himself as a life-long learner. However, with a job at a furniture manufacturer, the support of co-workers and the advantages of an undergraduate degree, he began to see the value of a graduate degree. And Davenport University afforded him the opportunity to pursue one.
Tell us about yourself. Your family, life, background, interests…
I have lived on the west side of Michigan all my life. I grew up in Holland and still live there. My wife and I just celebrated our 10-year anniversary. We have a five-year-old son and a two and half-year-old daughter. When I graduated from high school I had zero interest in college. My wife is from Germany and we met in high school while she was an exchange student. We married right away and I immediately started working. I didn’t enjoy my first job, so we both decided it was time to look into college. She and I received our undergraduate degrees from Baker College. Then I went on to get my masters degree in Strategic Management from Davenport.
In a nutshell, what do you do?
I work at Custer Inc. as a project manager. My job is basically taking ownership of projects when customers place an order with us. I see them through from the beginning design to the last phase of the project installation. I work with customers, general contractors, manufacturers and everyone else involved. I get ship dates, create timelines, oversee the installation process and address any issues that may arise. I enjoy working with a lot of different people and departments as well as traveling to construction sites. I usually oversee between 10 to 20 projects at a time.
How long have you worked at Custer Inc.? What was your career path that led to your current job?
I have been with Custer Inc. for about a year now. Prior to that, I was with NuCraft Furniture Co. working on a broad range of projects that involved a lot of travel. The experience I gained there, along with my master’s degree, helped propel me into my new position in project management. The classes in my degree combined nicely with my work experience developing project management skills.
Were there any mentors or people in your job that helped you along the way?
I had a manager named Christa who hired me into NuCraft Furniture Co. She gave me sound advice when I was trying to figure out what I want to do for a career. She was a big influence and provided me with opportunities at NuCraft. Heidi Frye, a career coach consultant contracted by NuCraft, helped me figure out my work style and helped me translate that into ways in which I could work more effectively with other people in the workplace.
Tell me why you picked DU for your master’s degree.
The online program. With working full-time and raising a young family with my wife, I didn’t have a lot of time to be in class. I also heard good things about the programs at Davenport. I was impressed with the availability of resources to DU students, especially with technology. The projected class list was also interesting to me.
What was your experience like at DU? Did you go full-time/part-time? Online or in-seat? What classes did you enjoy the most?
I took all online classes for my master’s through Davenport. I really enjoyed one of my project management classes where I worked in a simulation software program running a car manufacturing company. We had to make decisions about where the money was going, the workforce and timelines for the projects. This really opened my eyes up to what project management was like. It helped me relate things that I could use in my own job and taught me to work with people from different cultures and backgrounds online.
What are you passionate about?
I enjoy helping others. Sometimes it’s the small things you can do for others that shouldn’t be overlooked. As much as we try to break down silos, it is still difficult. I would like to help bridge the gap between groups — you can learn by viewing life through other people’s perspectives.
What is your dream job?
I’m very happy working at Custer Inc. I don’t really know that there is one specific dream job I have. I am excited about the opportunities at Custer Inc. I honestly would like to do a lot of different jobs. If I had the time and money, I would love to be a mechanic or even a zookeeper one day. I would also love to teach business classes to high schoolers. Maybe something outside of the office, trying and experiencing different professions.
What do you do when you are not working?
My time is usually spent with my wife and kids. We have some house projects we are working on. I also really love to read. I like all kinds of genre.
Who inspires you in your work, life and volunteerism?
I would say one of my big inspirations is my dad. He never went to college and growing up, he understood the importance of education. It is great to be able to show him what I have been able to do. He had many different careers from being in the Navy, to a police officer and even a pilot. I was always inspired by his different experiences.
Talk about your family’s values.
My family values honesty. I really try to teach that to my kids, and it is how I try to approach business. Another is never giving up on something. I read a book called Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth and reading that brought forth a lot of values that I agree with.
How would you like to be remembered?
I would like to be remembered as someone who was honest, hardworking and reliable. Also, as someone who always lent a helping hand to others.